Lithium is a soft alkali metal with a silvery-white color and, under normal conditions, it is the lightest metal on earth. This light metal is the main component of the cathodes in every lithium-ion battery used to power EVs. Thus, with the recent rise in EV sales, Lithium production has been catapulted to new heights. The increased demand of Lithium in the EV market has led the material to be dubbed “white gold” due to its value and color.
Let’s take a look at some of the top countries and businesses involved in lithium mining globally.
World Leaders in Lithium Production
Estimates suggest that the world’s lithium production has increased greatly since the early 2000s. In 2010, the world only produced 28,100 metric tons of lithium. Production has increased over the following years and actually reached a high of 130,000 metric tons in 2022.
Statista states that Australia has the most lithium mines in the world. In 2022, the country produced 61,000 metric tons of lithium. Chile and China stand in second and third positions with 39,000 and 19,000 metric tons of lithium production, respectively.
Australia also has the world’s biggest hard rock lithium mine. The country extracts most of its lithium from spodumene, a mineral that contains lithium.
On the other hand, Chile gets its lithium from the lithium-rich brine deposits in Salar de Atacama, which is one of the richest brine deposits in the world. Chile holds a large amount of the world’s lithium reserves.
Taking the third spot, China is both one of the biggest producers of lithium in the world and also the largest consumer of lithium in the world. This consumption is largely driven by battery production as China is the world leader in lithium-ion battery production.
The World’s Biggest Lithium Miners
The Albemarle Corporation produces more lithium than any other company in the world. Albemarle’s works with Sociedad Qumica y Minera de Chile (SQM) at Salar de Atacama. SQM is the second-largest producer of lithium in the world. Albemarle also owns lithium mines in Australia and Nevada in the United States.
China has more than half the world’s capacity to refine lithium into chemicals that are used in batteries. As part of China’s plan to take over the supply chain for metals used in clean energy, three Chinese companies have become the largest lithium mining companies in the world.
Tianqi Lithium, the largest one, owns a larger stake in the world’s largest hard-rock lithium mine, located in Australia, called Greenbushes.
Lithium Mining and Conveying Systems
The best and safest way to transport raw materials like lithium ore (spodumene) from the mine to the processing plant is through a conveying system.
The processed lithium products, like lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, are moved securely using conveying systems to storage areas or shipping containers.
S. Howes is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of industrial processing machinery for a variety of purposes. Conveying, size reduction, mixing, screening, and filtration are only a few of them. And we have been doing this for generations!
Our conveying systems, like every piece of our industrial equipment, are crafted to last a lifetime. Every piece of equipment that leaves our doors is engineered and designed to meet the specific needs and requirements of the job. This allows us to ensure that the process equipment is the right fit for the job and will hold up to the rigorous requirements of the process. It is no surprise that some S. Howes equipment is still in use after more than 75 years.
Contact us to learn more about our capabilities in conveying systems for the mining sector.